The negativity of far right political parties, and particularly the British National Party (BNP), towards Islam and Muslims has been reaffirmed in a new report by academics at Nottingham and Salford Universities which was launched at Chatham House on 8 March 2012. Distributed by Searchlight Educational Trust, it is available online at:
The research for Matthew Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans, From Voting to Violence? Far Right Extremism in Britain was funded by the British Academy. It is based on online interviews with 2,152 supporters of far right parties pre-screened from YouGov’s panel of 350,000 adults aged 18 and over. Fieldwork was presumably conducted in 2011.
Supporters exhibited a range of attachments to their parties: members, former members, identifiers, voters, and prospective voters. There were 485 supporters of the BNP (formed in 1982) in the sample, 1,505 of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP, 1993), and 210 of the English Defence League (EDL, 2009). Some support overlapped.
74% of BNP supporters and 46% of UKIP supporters cited immigration or Muslims as the most important issue facing Britain today, and a minority (22% and 8% respectively) even suggested that the position of Muslims already in British society was the most significant challenge faced by the country.
88% of BNP and 85% of UKIP supporters disagreed with the statement that Islam did not pose a serious danger to Western civilization; just 7% and 9% agreed. In the case of the BNP, core supporters (members and identifiers) felt more strongly about this than those on the periphery (voters or potential voters), but the distinction did not hold true for UKIP.
92% of BNP and 84% of UKIP followers said that they would be bothered by the prospect of a mosque being built in their community, considerably more than the 55% recorded by the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2008. Again, BNP’s core supporters were especially concerned.
Perhaps the most worrying finding of all was that 92% of BNP and 75% of UKIP supporters felt that violence between different ethnic, racial or religious groups in Britain is largely inevitable, with the core of both parties most likely to agree with this forecast.
Although far right parties often try to galvanize public hostility towards minorities by emphasizing Christian themes, respondents to this poll were not unduly religious relative to the population as a whole. The proportion professing no religion was 46% for BNP, 42% for EDL, and 39% for UKIP supporters. However, there were fewer non-Christians in the sample than the norm.
The number of EDL interviewees in this survey was small. Therefore, BRIN readers might like to be reminded of our coverage of another investigation of EDL supporters at: